ARTICLE: THE MINIMALLY CONSCIOUS PERSON: A CASE STUDY IN DIGNITY AND PERSONHOOD AND THE STANDARD OF REVIEW FOR WITHDRAWAL OF TREATMENT Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2009 Wayne State University
The Wayne Law Review

ARTICLE: THE MINIMALLY CONSCIOUS PERSON: A CASE STUDY IN DIGNITY AND PERSONHOOD AND THE STANDARD OF REVIEW FOR WITHDRAWAL OF TREATMENT

Summer, 2009

THE WAYNE LAW REVIEW

55 Wayne L. Rev. 821

Author

Jeffrey B. Hammond+

Excerpt

I.Introduction

A.The Resurrection of a Minimally Conscious Patient

The story of George Melendez, broadcast on the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes, caused a national stir for its poignancy and human interest. Melendez was an otherwise normal young man when one night he drove his car into a pond and almost drowned. 1 Though rescued, George laid in his bed for years, cared for by his mother, Pat Flores. 2 George was practically incommunicado for most of his post-accident life, occasionally moaning at night. 3

One night, when the moaning was particularly loud, Ms. Flores gave George a shot of Ambien(r), hoping that the popular medicine would help George rest. 4 However, instead of leading him into sleep, the pill had a diametrically opposite effect. 5 The Ambien wrought a change that was nothing short of miraculous. Instead of drifting off to sleep, the Ambien brightened George, and he started looking around his bedroom. 6 Noting her success, Ms. Flores gave George another shot of Ambien the next day, and George has been receiving it every day for over five years. 7 While on the Ambien, George could answer simple "yes" or "no" questions about his environment and his pain tolerance. 8 Ms. Flores then consulted with Dr. Nicholas Schiff, a neurologist at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. 9 Dr. Schiff conducted position emission tomography (PET) scans, both before and after Ambien treatment, and the results were incredible. 10 Schiff concluded that the Ambien produced two-fold metabolic change ...
 
 
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